How to become a Chief People Officer

Nathan Baldwin hr jobs

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Becoming a Chief People Officer is the pinnacle of most Human Resources careers. The role is often regarded as the highest possible HR position and reaching that level often requires years of skill, experience and knowledge. An increasing number of businesses across the world are investing heavily in their HR structure, this means the function of the CPO is starting to adapt to changing demands. So, in a constantly changing landscape, how do you become a CPO?

Step One: Finding the right career options

This might seem like a simple step to take but it can often be the most important in securing a CPO or equivalent position. Many company HR structures will facilitate career progression to a certain level i.e. HR Manager positions. This is why it is important to asses your career progression opportunities with your current employer. Your current organisation may simply be too small to facilitate a CPO position. But how do you find the right employer?

A great way to find the right employer with the right progression opportunities for you is to carry out your own background checks on potential employers, this can include finding out information about their company structure on their website, looking at their social media output and online reviews. If an employer’s brand message promotes clear leadership development opportunities and a commitment to improve employee experience, these are often good signs that they have a focus on human capital and will likely facilitate more senior HR positions.


Step Two: Getting the qualifications

Gaining the right professional qualifications can offer a faster route to becoming a CPO, they are also vital when applying for a new CPO role. The most common and sought-after qualification is a high level CIPD qualification, typically level 6 or level 7 qualifications are a standard requirement on most CPO job advertisements. Your employer may support you through your CIPD qualification, especially if they have a senior HR position available. It is always worth asking your employer about training programs and opportunities.


Step Three: Acquiring the right CPO skills

Understanding the main skills required to be a successful CPO before you apply for the job will prove invaluable when you finally secure the position. But what are the main skill sets employers look for when recruiting for CPO’s?

Business acumen: as a member of the leadership team CPO’s work closely with senior c-suite level employees, this includes the CEO and CFO to help integrate business-wide strategies. This means that as a CPO your experience and recommendations will likely influence the decisions of the CEO. To ensure these decisions will benefit the wider company, a CPO must acknowledge how those decisions will impact the business and have a contingency plan in place if something goes wrong.   

Talent management: this is a vital skill relating to the central HR function and can refer to the different ways in which a business attracts and retains employees. The CPO will typically strategize with the wider HR function and business to implement policies aimed at attracting and retaining talent. This will often include constantly reviewing the company EVP to ensure it is in-line with other market trends.

Emotional intelligence: the key function of the CPO role is centred around people. Interpersonal skills and an ability to understand how other people may be feeling is a crucial skill any senior HR professional should possess. Having an empathetic approach is key!

Influential: to drive company change at a cultural level a CPO must be a confident leader. The CPO will often be responsible from driving positive change through communicating with the wider business. A successful CPO will be communicative, confident and affirmative.

​Chief People Officer Salary Expectations

The average salary of a CPO can vary depending on the organisation, responsibilities, location etc, however they are often regarded as some of the highest-paid HR positions.

The estimated calculation of the average salary for CPO’s in the UK can be anywhere between £50,000 to £250,000.

If you are looking to progress within your HR career, our dedicated HR recruitment specialists can help find the right career move for you. Get in touch with us today on 0161 707 1516 or search HR jobs here.